Pages tagged "Dispensaries"

  • LA Supervisors Fumble

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    Los Angeles County Supervisors voted 4-1 today to ban medical cannabis collectives in the unincorporated communities of the county, overturning a 2006 ordinance regulating safe access. The vote was in response to concerns about public safety following high-profile violence in the City of Los Angeles and the proliferation of un-permitted collectives in the county. Today’s vote should be a wakeup call for patients and advocates all over California. Bad press and public perception can roll back progress on medical cannabis.



    Supervisor Michael Antonovich, a long-time medical cannabis opponent, started the push to ban collectives in June, after media coverage about multiple shootings at collectives in the City of Los Angeles stoked community concerns about safety. It should have been a short debate. Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, Gloria Molina, and Don Knabe all supported the regulations in 2006; and newly-elected Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas voted to support patients’ rights as a state Assemblymember in 2008. But much of that goodwill evaporated as Supervisors watched neighborhood concerns(and media coverage) rise along with the number of illegal collectives in cities and unincorporated areas.

    Patients and advocates must be vigilant for turning tides of public opinion. Long term trends are towards greater acceptance and support for medical cannabis. But opponents like Supervisor Antonovich will continue to seize on short comings and neighborhood ambivalence to push back whenever they can. Antonovich did not have to prove a correlation between collectives and violence. He only had to raise the issue and let the media zeitgeist carry the day.

    The facts are on our side. Research conducted by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the experience of the last fourteen years prove that sensible regulations reduce crime and complaints. In fact, collectives can make a neighborhood safer. Even Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters in January that the idea that collectives attract crime “doesn’t really bear out.” It is too bad for patients in Los Angeles County that Supervisors just were not listening.

    Los Angeles County Supervisors fumbled today when they banned medical cannabis collectives. The ban will prevent law-abiding patients from operating collectives, but do little to close the un-permitted collectives causing so much hand-wringing in the county. In casting this unfortunate vote, the majority ignored input from a small, but dedicated, segment of community that fought the ban for the last five months. We can only hope cooler heads prevail after headlines celebrating the crackdown have faded, Supervisors claim victory, and advocates start the hard work of changing this bad policy.
  • Medical Marijuana Advocates Bring Attention to DEA Confirmation Hearings

    Americans for Safe Access is urging Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) members to ask Acting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Michele Leonhart difficult and pointed questions on Wednesday, during her confirmation hearing, about her plan to address the growing divide between federal and state medical marijuana laws. Leonhart, a Bush-holdover, led aggressive attacks for many years against medical marijuana patients and their providers, and has obstructed meaningful research into the medical efficacy of marijuana. Read more about Leonhart’s confirmation hearing, her background as Deputy DEA Administrator, the questions ASA has submitted to the SJC, and the action patients are taking to hold Leonhart accountable for her actions.

    [caption id="attachment_993" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart"]
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  • DC Medical Marijuana Law Advances Toward Implementation with New Revised Regulations

    D.C. medical marijuana patient advocates claimed partial victory, as a new set of revised rules and regulations were published by the District on Friday. The biggest achievement for patients, which was recently underscored by DCist.com, was wresting the licensing control from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) and placing it into the hands of more experienced healthcare providers. Although Americans for Safe Access (ASA) takes issue with other aspects of the regulations, such as the prohibition on patients cultivating their own medical marijuana, ASA intends to work with Mayor-elect Gray on reversing counter-productive and harmful provisions, building a strong and representative licensing board, and effectively meeting patients' needs. After voting for Initiative 59, the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998,” more than 12 years ago, D.C. patients are ready to implement the law.
  • Is Harris the Next CA AG? Stay Tuned!

    While Kamala Harris' campaign team has declared  victory, the Secretary of State hasn't made a final decision yet.  There are a large number of unprocessed ballots (either because they were provisional, mailed in, or initially unreadable by the ballot tally machines).  Until we have a final official count, we won't know for certain. As of 2:34pm today, Ms. Harris held a lead of only 9,364 votes, down from estimates earlier in the day of under 14,000.  Voting precincts across the state are scrambling to get all of these unprocessed ballots counted accurately. Stay tuned to ASA's blog, & check our website often for updates.  We'll be sure to keep you in the loop.  For more information about ASA's statewide push against Steve Cooley, check out http://NotCooley.com
  • A New National Landscape for Patients



    Yesterday was a hard day for medical marijuana advocates across the country.  We defeated several local initiatives banning dispensaries in California and Colorado and (fingers crossed) our "NotCooley"campaign provided the narrow margin necessary to ensure victory for California Attorney General-Elect Kamala Harris.  But voters rejected statewide medical marijuana initiatives in Arizona, Oregon and South Dakota, while measures to increase taxes on medicine in California won.   And of course, the US House of Representatives is now in the hands of dangerous politicians who do not share our vision of safe access.


    We have never had so much to lose and our fight begins today!  It is more important than ever that we work together to protect the gains we've made and fight even harder for what we know is possible.  Americans for Safe Access (ASA) needs your support now more than ever.
     
    The national landscape for medical marijuana has changed, but our course remains the same. Since 2006, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has been working full time in Washington, DC to: 1) Put an end to federal interference with state medical marijuana laws, 2) End the ban on clinical research, and 3) Create a plan to guarantee safe access for the entire nation. That work is ongoing and we will not stop until all Americans have safe and legal access.
     
    But we cannot do this alone. This year, I traveled all over the country to meet patients and advocates and I am deeply moved by your commitment to safe access.  Unfortunately, I am also shocked by how few of you engage regularly with your federal representatives.  If you are not meeting with them, then they are only hearing about medical cannabis from our opposition.
     
    These election results mean we need to fight harder!  With your help, ASA can be ready for new challenges and bigger victories.  Together we can stand up to our opponents in Congress and prepare for 2012 and beyond.   Can you make a contribution  to ASA today, so that we can keep fighting?

    We must be our own liberators; no one is going to do our work for us.
      
    Republican Party control of the House of Representatives may make our work more difficult, and that’s why it is more important than ever that ASA bring an educated and empowered constituency with real solutions to the table. We have to show the new Congress that patients’ voices cannot be ignored! That is the only way we will get policymakers to bridge the divide between federal and state laws regarding medical marijuana.
     
    ASA will continue to work on Capitol Hill and with the Administration to improve the federal government's understanding about medical marijuana, as well as both the immediate and long term needs of our members. We may have lost several battles yesterday, but we have not lost the fight by any means. We’ve become used to working hard to defy the odds, but we need your support right now to keep making a positive difference in the lives of patients.  Join the fight today and help us make that difference!
  • "Impatience and frustration" in LA

    Special Assistant City Attorney Jane Usher told the Los Angeles Times that medical cannabis collectives in Los Angeles are experiencing "impatience and frustration” due to ongoing legal controversy surrounding the city’s tough new regulations. That may be the first thing Ms. Usher and medical cannabis advocates have agreed on in years. Don’t expect the amity to last long. The City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is trying to close more than one hundred legal collectives deemed ineligible to register under the city’s ordinance based on broad interpretive leaps. Los Angeles Times reporter Sandy Banks said she understands why the collectives feel like this is an “underhanded trick.”

    READ: LA Timnes - "Some compassionate pot shops caught in L.A. law's red tape" (Sandy Banks, October 19, 2010)



    The Los Angeles City Council delayed a vote on an amendment that might have settled some of the controversy this morning. Councilmembers want more clarity on constitutional issues raised in hundreds of lawsuits now consolidated in Los Angeles District Court. Delay in unfortunate. Some small improvements in the ordinance now could do a lot to diffuse the impatience and frustration felt by collective operators who have tried to support and comply with the city’s convoluted regulatory process. Unless the City Council stands up to the City Attorney’s capricious interpretation of the law, the there may be little goodwill left for implementation after the dust settles in the courtroom.
  • Persistence pays off in Los Angeles

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    (UPDATE October 19 - The Los Angeles City Council delayed a vote on the Hahn-Koretz amendment to the Medical Cannabis Ordinance this morning, apparently because Councilmembers want more clarity on constitutional issues raised by post-moratorium collectives. A District Court judge will hear oral arguments in the consolidated medical cannabis lawsuits on November 3. A vote on the amendment is scheduled for November 4, but advocates expect further delay.)

    Sometimes it is hard to see the results from grassroots advocacy, but medical cannabis supporters in Los Angeles just got some concrete evidence that persistence pays off. In response to pressure from constituents, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Janice Hahn introduced a motion on Friday to make an important change in the city’s controversial medical cannabis ordinance. If adopted, the motion will allow dozens of legal collectives deemed ineligible by the City Clerk to seek registration – and that means more access to medicine for patients.



    The controversy stems from a narrow interpretation of the ordinance, which prohibits changes in ownership or management. The City Clerk ruled last month that dozens of collectives were ineligible to register because they “changed” management. In most cases, however, the only “change” was in how many people were listed on different forms – including paperwork dating back to 2007. The City Attorney promptly filed lawsuits to close the collectives. Advocates have been talking with staff and City Councilmembers for weeks about the need to reinstate legal collectives that can show continuity of management.  

    Americans for safe Access (ASA) invests a lot of time and resources in grassroots advocacy because we know it pays off. A small army of lobbyists and lawyers are working to make changes to the ordinance to benefit their clients. Until now, City Councilmembers have been steadfast in resisting calls for amendments. But grassroots pressure has succeeded in creating the first opportunity for progress. We have to keep up those phone calls, emails, and letters. We need to keep making our voices heard inside and outside City Council Chambers. This motion must still be approved by the City Council, and there are many more changes that need to be made to make this ordinance work for medical cannabis patients.

    Read more about being an effective grassroots advocate in  ABC’s of Citizen Advocacy.
  • CA Assembly Rejects SJR 14

    The California Assembly failed to adopt SJR 14 by only four votes on Monday (see votes). We are disappointed by this outcome, but I want to thank the hundreds of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) members and supporters who called their representatives in the Assembly over the last ten days to support the resolution. I also want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staff in the offices of California Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who worked tirelessly until the very last minute to get the votes we needed. SJR 14 was resolution sponsored by ASA and authored by Senator Leno calling for an end to federal interference in state medical cannabis laws and for the development of a comprehensive national policy to provide safe access. We hope to send a new resolution to the President, lawmakers, and the administrative agencies in the next legislative session, so that we can help shape the evolving federal policy on medical cannabis. The window of opportunity for SJR 14 this year was narrow. Resolutions usually go to the back of the line when lawmakers in Sacramento are running out of time. It was even tougher this year. A historic financial shortfall and impasse on the budget have dominated the final days of the legislative session. Even last minute support from the influential National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was not enough to galvanize Assemblymembers around the resolution. SJR 14 should have been a winner in a Democratic legislature – it costs nothing, does not change state law, and calls for action only in the federal arena. Unfortunately, ambivalence about medical cannabis is at a high water mark in Sacramento. Even legislators with a track record of support are worried about increasingly unpopular collectives, lenient doctors, or patients that “don’t look sick.” That is why some of the twelve silent Assemblymembers withheld their support for SJR 14. We are seeing a more sophisticated legislative effort from our opponents in Sacramento. Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) introduced a law enforcement-sponsored bill to limit locations for collectives. AB 2650 was initially cut and pasted straight from the unreasonable ordinances adopted this year in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Senator Ron Calderon’s (D-Montebello) fist bill sought to tax all cannabis at the same rate as tobacco (SBX6 16), and his latest effort establishes a tight licensing requirement – but without specifying fees or providing any legal protections for growers (SB 1131). These initiatives and others like them will be back in the next session. We still have to fight to protect the ground we have gained since 2003, and   work even harder to make progress on licensing, taxation, and collective regulation next session.  There is a lot to do. We should already be building our base, shoring up relationships in the legislature, getting strong legislative proposals together, and building coalitions for next session. I want to call on ASA members and medical cannabis advocates in the state to rededicate their time, attention, and financial resources the campaign for safe access in California. If we rediscover the energy and commitment that brought us this far, we can overcome these challenges and make real progress towards realizing the voters’ mandate for medical cannabis in California and finally changing federal law.
  • LA City Attorney Turns Up the Heat

    The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has filed a complaint (download sections 1- 2 -3 - 4) asking for a Temporary Restraining Order and Permanent Injunction closing 135 pre-moratorium medical cannabis collectives deemed ineligible to register under the city’s new ordinance. The complaint is City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s latest escalation in his campaign to roll back safe access to medical cannabis in the city. His aggressive posture has already raised the ire of patients, legal collective operators, and advocates in the state’s largest city – including many who played an instrumental role in developing and promoting regulation in the city. Yesterday, the City Clerk’s office surprised collective operators by publishing a “Preliminary Priority List,” which indicated that less than 25% of the collectives which applied to register with the city were eligible to do so. Each ineligible collective will receive a letter explaining why they were excluded this week. Early reports indicate that unauthorized relocations, changes in ownership or management, and problematic background checks are leading causes for ineligibility. That only 25% of the collectives survived the initial vetting speaks to the severity of the city’s ordinance and the narrow interpretation championed by the City Attorney. City Councilmembers can expect renewed controversy over the escalation when they return from recess in September. There will also be new litigation, as “ineligible” collectives seek relief based on a myriad of individual circumstances. The development and implementation of medical cannabis regulations in Los Angeles has been a case study in what not to do. The long delay in writing regulations, botched moratorium, indecision on interim operating policies, reckless 11th-hour amendments, and absolute breakdown in enforcement have left patients in a state of confusion and fear. It did not have to be this way. Other cities and counties have successfully regulated medical cannabis already. Angelinos hope that their elected officials will realize that there is a better way to achieve the proven benefits of regulation – reduced crime, fewer complaints, and increased revenue – and abandon this costly path of obstruction and delay.
  • CA Senate Committees Approve AB 2650

    Two California Senate committees approved a bill this week that will require a 600-foot buffer zone between medical cannabis collectives and schools statewide. AB 2650 was approved by the Senate Health Committee and the Local Government Committee over the objection of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and other medical cannabis advocates. However, ASA and allies can claim a victory in the bills march towards final approval by the Senate. The initial draft would have required a 1,000-foot buffer zone around a laundry list of sensitive uses. Pressure from the medical cannabis community forced the author, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), to retreat to the less onerous provision. AB 2650 is expected to win final approval in the Senate this session. Cities and counties can adopt smaller buffer zones before January 1, 2011, when the new legislation takes effect. Local governemnt retains the right to adopt larger buffer zones at any time. The bill is sponsored by the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), a law enforcement lobbyist group that opposes medical cannabis.